Thursday, 31 October 2013

Livorno 3-3 Torino

Despite taking a 2-0 lead within the opening ten minutes, Torino still needed a late Alessio Cerci penalty in order to rescue a point in Tuscany on Wednesday evening.

Giampiero Ventura surprised many by setting Toro out in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, as the returning Omar El Kaddouri started wide on the left, with Alessio Cerci in his favoured position on the right wing.

The Granata made a blistering start and were ahead after just four minutes, as Cerci beat Giuseppe Gemiti for pace, before delivering an excellent right footed cross for Ciro Immobile to tap home.

Then moments later, the visitors doubled their lead when a Cerci corner was headed in by captain Kamil Glik, who scored his first goal of the season.

However, Livorno reacted well to that early set back, although it must be said they were assisted in getting back into the match by Torino who continued to give the ball back to the hosts. On the twenty-five minute mark, the home side got a goal back, when Pasquale Schiattarella's low cross was turned in by Paulinho. 

And just eight minutes later, Livorno grabbed a deserved equaliser when an excellent dummy from Paulinho attracted three players to him, and that gave Leandro Greco the space to score from the edge of the area.

Torino almost regained the lead just before half time, but home goalkeeper Francesco Bardi made an outstanding save to deny Kamil Glik his second goal of the evening.

In the second half, Livorno almost took the lead for the first time in the match, but Daniele Padelli made an excellent save with his legs to deny striker Innocent Emeghara. 

However, the former Udinese goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent defender Emerson from giving his side the lead on the hour mark. The Brazilian defender ran from his own half unleashing an unstoppable left footed shot from 35 yards to leave Padelli stranded.

But Torino showed some character to come back into the match, and they thought they had equalised when substitute Paulo Barreto played in Danilo D'Ambrosio, but the full back could only hit the post. With just minutes remaining, Torino received a lifeline when defender Leandro Rinaudo handled Ciro Immobile's goal bound effort and referee Paolo Valeri pointed to the spot.

Despite missing a penalty in the game against Inter, Alessio Cerci made no mistake on this occasion and he capped an excellent individual performance with a crucial goal. As Italian football pundit James Horncastle pointed out, Torino certainly aren't boring this season, but if they are to improve on last season's finish of 16th, they will have to learn to defend much better.

However, thankfully Torino have a nice easy game at the weekend - as league leaders Roma, who have won nine games out of nine, and conceded just one goal come to the Stadio Olimpico. 

Forza Toro

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Livorno V Torino Preview

Torino travel to Tuscany in search of their first victory in over a month as they face newly promoted Livorno on Wednesday evening.

Ciro Immobile has returned from suspension and is included in the squad, whilst Omar El Kaddouri has also been included after missing a number of games with an injury.

Livorno, managed by former Toro defender Davide Nicola made a solid start to the season after their surprise promotion in the summer - although after winning two of their opening three fixtures, they are now without a win in six.

Livorno 1-2 Torino

Monday, 28 October 2013

Napoli 2-0 Torino

Torino were punished by two controversial refereeing decisions as a brace of Gonzalo Higuian penalties gave Napoli a 2-0 victory over the Granata.

Kamil Glik returned to the back three after suspension, whilst there were also rare starts for Salvatore Masiello and Nicola Bellomo.

Things got off to a bad start after only fifteen minutes, when Bellomo was adjudged to have fouled Belgian winger Dries Mertens in the area. On first look it seemed like a fair decision, but on the replay it seemed as though the former PSV player had wrapped his leg around the Torino midfielder's leg in order to initiate contact. Former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuian stepped up to take the penalty, and the Argentine made no mistake, as he blasted the ball into the top corner.

Higuian had a great chance to double Napoli's lead after linking up with Mertens, but he was denied by a great save from Danielle Padelli. However, after some help from the additional official behind the goal, referee Andrea De Marco awarded Napoli another penalty, after Kamil Glik was adjudged to have handled - despite the fact he was only inches away from Federico Fernandez's strike. And just as he had done a quarter of an hour previously, Higuain stepped up to convert the penalty, this time sending Padelli the wrong way.

The home side should have extended their lead moments later, as Padelli came rushing out of his goal to make a clearance, but failed to make any contact with the ball. However, Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne was unable to get the ball past the two covering Toro defenders.

Torino's first opportunity of the half was a long range free kick by Alessio Cerci, that was tipped over the bar by Jose Reina. Whilst from the resulting corner, captain Kamil Glik narrowly volleyed over the bar with Toro's best chance of the game.

With an important game against Livorno coming up on Wednesday, Giampiero Ventura took the opportunity to rest a few key players as it became obvious there was no way back for Toro in the second half - and Alessio Cerci, Alessandro Gazzi and Danilo D'Ambrosio were all replaced.

Substitute Riccardo Meggiorini came close to opening his account for the season, however his left footed shot from distance was comfortably saved by Reina. Daniele Padelli continued his reputation of being a good shot stopper (just a shame about his inability to claim crosses), as he made fine saves from Dries Mertens and then Jose Callejon.

In the dying moments, Migjen Basha was harshly sent off as he cynically fouled Goran Pandev, and was adjudged to be the last man - although it looked as though Torino had at least one defender covering.

That incident summed up a miserable afternoon for the Granata, and after going behind early, their attention seemed to be diverted to Wednesday's fixture at Livorno. That game is now crucial for a Torino side that has not won in five matches, with their only two victories this season coming against Sassuolo and Bologna - both of whom are in the bottom three.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Napoli V Torino Preview

Torino will make the long journey south to Napoli on Sunday afternoon as they look to earn their first victory since September 22nd.

The Granata were disappointed not to beat Inter last weekend, especially after they twice took the lead against a side who had 10 men for 85 minutes.

Toro will be without one of the goalscorers from that game, as Alexander Farnerud is injured, and that could allow Nicola Bellomo - who equalised so dramatically against Inter - to be his replacement. Captain Kamil Glik has returned from suspension, so he should return to the starting eleven.

Napoli have started well under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez, and were apparently unlucky to lose to league leaders Roma last week. Whilst they rebounded to that defeat with a victory in the Champions League against Marseille, the Granata will be looking to capatilise on any fatigue from the partenopei.

Napoli 3-1 Torino

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Torino 3-3 Inter

For once it was Torino who scored a last minute equaliser, as substitute Nicola Bellomo's free kick earnt Torino a deserved point against ten man Inter.

With an injury crisis in defence, midfielder Giuseppe Vives started in the back three - whilst Alessandro Gazzi and Paulo Barreto both surprisingly started after their ban for their role in the Calcio Scommese scandal came to an end.

Toro made an electric start, and top scorer Alessio Cerci hit the post with a volley in the opening few minutes. And moments later, the same player was upended in the area by Inter keeper Samir Handanovic, and Torino were awarded a penalty. In addition to the spot kick, the Slovenian was, somewhat harshly, sent off.

Cerci stepped up to take the penalty himself, but the Italian international was denied after substitute Juan Pablo Carrizo pulled off an excellent save. However, mid-way through the half the Granata did take the lead when Alexander Farnerud scored his first goal for the club with a volley inside the area after the ball was deflected into his path by an Inter defender.

But on the stroke of half time, Inter equalised when Torino failed to deal with a set piece - and some unconvincing goalkeeping from Daniele Padelli allowed Freddy Guarin to score with an extravagant overhead kick. However, just after half time Torino recovered from that blow to regain the lead when substitute Ciro Immobile fired the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

However, less than two minutes later Torino let a lead slip once again, as some terrible goalkeeping from Padelli allowed Argentine striker Rodrigo Palacio to head the ball into an empty net. And fifteen minutes later, the former Genoa striker scored his second goal of the game, when he converted an excellent cross from Ishak Belfodil to give ten man Inter a shock lead.

And just when it looked that Torino would come out of this game empty handed, substitute Nicola Bellomo curled a free kick from wide on the left touchline into the top corner - in a goal extremely reminiscent of Ronaldinho's against England in the 2002 World Cup. Whilst I'm not entirely sure that Bellomo intended to score from such a difficult angle, it earnt Torino a deserved point from a game they arguably should have won.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Torino V Inter Preview

Torino will be looking to improve their miserable recent record against the so-called 'bigger' teams in Italian football, as they face Inter on Sunday evening.

The Granata will be without Kamil Glik who is suspended, whilst injury concerns over Guillermo Rodriguez and Cesare Bovo could lead to Giampiero Ventura reverting to a four man defence. If Toro line up in a new formation, Alessio Cerci could return to his favoured position on the wing, and Riccardo Meggiorini - who scored a brace against Inter last season - could start.

Under new coach Walter Mazzarri, Inter have made a strong start to the campaign - however in the last match before the winter break, they suffered a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to a Francesco Totti inspired Roma.

Match Prediction
Torino 1-1 Inter

Maratona and Elsewhere #16/bis : The Grumbling Appendix

On Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1980 album, “Get Happy”, there is a track entitled “Clowntime Is Over”. I think we can say with complete confidence that Mr MacManus wasn’t referring to Serie A referees when he wrote that one.

Davide Massa was suspended for his handling of our game against Milan, then we had Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni’s one-eyed masterclass in the derby and talk of Daniele Orsato also being suspended for not knowing how to use a flag. No such luck; Orsato refereed Lazio vs. Fiorentina the following week and found sufficient time to wave his yellow card on eight separate occasions. Then came Nine-Bookings-The-Clown (to use his Native American name) Andrea Gervasoni’s horrorshow in, and ban following, the Sampdoria game. Their last-gasp penalty was laughable enough, but blowing for half-time as they “scored” was embarrassing. We can argue that we have five points fewer than we should have, thanks to these individuals. Five points that would put us in a European place just behind our next opponents, Inter. Ah, another of the “big” teams. Expect we’ll get a raw deal against them on Sunday night, then. No idea as yet which buffoon will be given the whistle.

Actually, Mazzoleni deserves a special mention. Those who remember last year’s outrageous SuperCoppa game in Beijing in which Napoli were robbed by (guess who?) Venaria Town may remember him. Napoli were leading 2-1 after 70 minutes or so, then Mazzoleni sent off two of their players and manager Mazzari and awarded a penalty to the gobbi. There is a Mazzoleni family up in the mountains near Turin who make their living as skiing instructors, so I’m told. Gobbi to a man, they apparently deny being related to this guy. Can’t say I blame them.
We’re towards the end of the international break (I’m writing this on the morning of Tuesday, October 15th) and I’ve been finding it difficult to raise much enthusiasm for this round of fixtures, but the prospect of Kamil Glik, Jakub Błaszczykowski , Robert Lewandowski et al pissing on England’s chips is an interesting one. Forty years almost to the day since Jan Tomaszewski’s goalkeeping heroics prevented England from going to the World Cup Finals in West Germany in 1974, I’m hoping that the 18,000 Polish fans at Wembley drown out that fucking awful English brass band. There is something endearingly moronic about the supporters of certain English national sports teams: we have the “Barmy Army”, who are a bunch of tone-deaf drunks who detract from any cricketing occasion; we have the meat pie manufacturer-sponsored aforementioned brass band who follow the football team and seem to have a repertoire of three tunes (I use the words “repertoire” and “tunes” advisedly); and we have the smug, white, middle-class rugby union types who see no irony in singing the negro spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at Twickenham. Bless ‘em.

I’m expecting a full Stadio Olimpico on Sunday; it was full last time Inter came, and I see no reason for it not to be so this time. Isn’t it strange how the stadium’s full when we play teams from the city of Milan and not when we play our so-called cousins? It would appear to the untrained eye that the Milanisti and Interisti live closer to Turin than the gobbi. 

I’m not sure what to expect of the game itself, other than the customary refereeing blunders. With injuries and suspensions, we have no defence at the moment and Inter apparently have problems in attack. That said, with Marcelo Larrondo of the broken foot, Ciro “one goal this season” Immobile and the Meggiorini, one could argue that we have problems in attack, too. The returns of Gazzi and Barreto are better than a poke in the eye, I suppose, but the rumours of Vives playing in defence don’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Milan themselves? Bravo to Philippe Mexès for maintaining his impressive run of petulance in Piemonte. At least this time he hit that shrinking violet and epitome of fair play Giorgio Chiellini, instead of aiming a slap at our Head of Ticketing. As for his club, they were hauled over the coals for their supporters’ alleged racist chanting when they played the gobbi last week. Fined €50k and ordered to play Udinese behind closed doors. Only one slight problem: there was no racist chanting by the Milan supporters. There was no independent, verifiable evidence of racist chanting.

Somehow I can’t imagine Venaria Town being told to play behind closed doors by the (spineless, corrupt, brown-nosing) football authorities in this country, despite their shameful record of racist chanting. I’ve lifted this directly from The Guardian’s “Said & Done” column from October 12th, which they themselves lifted from the Gazzetta dello Sport two days previously, as an example:

“Fabio Cannavaro, revealing why Juventus fans like to aim racist abuse at Mario Balotelli: "It's out of fear, perhaps respect. He has an attitude they don't like, he's strong and opponents are scared of him. That's why they tease him."

So that’s all right, then. Singing “if you jump, Balotelli dies” shows respect. I’ve heard some bullshit in my lifetime...
I’d like to finish on a high note, for once, so... some good news! We’ve won something! According to the aforementioned Gazzetta, we have been voted the best fans in Serie A by the 50 Anonymous Players (whoever they are).We came top with 18% of the vote! Ok, that’s only nine players out of fifty, but a win’s a win!

See you again next week to moan and drip about our loss / to celebrate our victory over Inter (delete as applicable).


P.S.: A former football manager who shall remain nameless once declared that football wasn’t a matter of life-and-death; it was more important than that. I don’t believe this for a moment. However, I have recently discovered that my father has prostate cancer and I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to consider supporting Movember next month. Even if you end up looking like an ageing pornstar for a couple of weeks, as I suspect I will, it’s for a very good cause.

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #16 : “Bury my heart at Wounded Ankle”

Torino 0-1 Juventus 29.09.13

So we didn’t get the dry-aged prime rib we thought we had ordered. We didn’t get the bottle of Barolo either, but rather a table wine that tasted like it had actually been made from a table.

Derby day had begun pleasantly enough with a quasi-traditional English breakfast – and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet and thereby making a terrible pun, my homemade baked beans were very well-received – but events soon took on a vaguely farcical quality. For future reference, whoever it is at City Hall who is responsible for public events might need to rethink the scheduling of a half-marathon on the morning of a derby. Driving to the stadium was an almighty pain in the arse.

Giving them the entire Curva Primavera put a nose or two out of joint, mine included. Eight-hundred-and-something of our Primavera members, some of whom are elderly and in no condition whatsoever for the Maratona, were obliged to either vacate their seats and move to the Maratona or not come to the game at all. The rationale behind this decision was a purely financial one; to shift more tickets. We, the feckless, irresponsible supporters, apparently never fill the stadium, so giving us fewer tickets was clearly what the doctor ordered. And what happened? The gobbi didn’t sell their entire allocation. Cairo’s customary reverse Midas touch in action.

And what of our visitors? They were virtually inaudible from where I was standing, though I understand that they were all that television viewers could hear. A similar divorce from reality was evident in some of their banners, the second largest of which proclaimed “MILANO”. Another simply read “011”, which probably serves as a reminder of the Turin dialling code when they call from home in Calabria and Puglia to buy tickets.

We, unusually, had a drummer. Any reader who is familiar with the joke about Ringo Starr and a foot spa will need no further explanation.

The game itself was less than gripping and doesn’t merit further discussion here. Our grand total of zero goal attempts on target speaks volumes. Yes, there were some controversial incidents, but as a spectacle it lacked quality.

Everyone saw that Carlos Tevez was offside and that Pogba’s goal should not have stood. Even the BBC and Paolo Bandini at “The Guardian” commented on it, and either of them commenting about Torino is about as rare as rocking-horse shit, so there is no need for further discussion here, either.

Some of the post-game tit-for-tat stuff was possibly of more, if academic, interest. Bastardo parruccato pluricondannato Conte said that Ciro Immobile should have been sent off for his challenge on Tevez, and that they would have won against 10 men even without the offside goal, considering their attacking superiority (see below). However, referee Mazzoleni was clearly wary of sending off half a Juventus player, and so Immobile stayed on the pitch. Tevez posted photos of his not-broken ankle on Twitter. Cairo pointed out that Marcelo Larrondo hadn’t posted any photos of his very-much-broken foot two weeks previously. [Miraculously, Tevez was fit to play for 55 minutes following Immobile’s 36th minute challenge and in the Champions League against Galatasaray three days later.]

Conte was also quoted as saying that they had attacked for 70 minutes, as if to reinforce their “we deserved to win despite being wrongly awarded the winning goal” party line. A quick visit to, however, reveals that possession was 52% to 48% in their favour. Let’s do some quick arithmetic, shall we? 52% of 90 minutes comes to 46 minutes and 48 seconds; that’s as near as “fuck you and the cat on your head, Conte” dammit one-third less than 70 minutes. Interestingly, if we apply the same rocket science to the number of scudetti Juventus claim to have won legitimately, we arrive at a figure not a million miles away from Zdenek Zeman’s “22 or 23 maximum”. As the completely impartial put it, Conte must have been a lot better at Italian at school than at mathematics.

His attempts to claim some kind of moral superiority having won yet another match thanks to a dubious refereeing decision made me more than a tad bilious. I seem to recall a certain Venaria Town manager who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Antonio Conte who received a 10-month ban last year for failing to report match fixing. Swore his innocence, but made a plea bargain. Strange behaviour for an innocent man, wouldn’t you think, entering a plea bargain?

Maybe he was just anxious because he’d never previously managed an entire derby against a team of 11 players? But his style (and, in fact, the so-called stile Juventus) is the diametric opposite of fair play, which often appears to be a foreign language in football. In Italy we have the concept of “furbizia”, which roughly translates as “cunning” but can be taken to mean ”gaining an unfair advantage by circumventing the rules and/or accepted conventions”. Examples of this could include agreeing a price with a tradesman and then paying less upon completion of the job, or, I don’t know, injecting football players with erythropoietin or conspiring to rig football matches or something (shrugs shoulders).

If honesty and fair play are not part of your make-up, it is very unlikely that you will be able to identify and appreciate these traits in – or transmit them to - other people. The skills underlying the ability to make a correct judgement are the same as those required to recognise a correct judgement. [See Kruger J, Dunning D. “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1999); 77; 6: 121-34. Or, better still, read about it in Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” (ISBN 978-0-00-728487-0).]

Juventus’ parent company, Exor, has total assets of €125.85 billion. We play in a renovated version of their old stadium. Our hands are down the back of the sofa, looking for money to rebuild Filadelfia, while the (juventino) Piero Fassino-led City Council leases Juventus 180,000 square metres of public land at Continassa at 58 cents per square metre for 99 years. (Alessandro Cavasinni at Gazzetta dello Sport reports that certain Council members will soon be up before the beak). Is this fair play in action?

Fassino also appointed a certain Giuseppe Alberto Zunino to be President of the Fondazione Filadelfia, though my understanding is that, thanks to online petitions (see and making our disgust crystal clear, the latter has declined the job. Why exactly would a gobbo Mayor choose a man with FIAT connections and a criminal conviction related to the construction industry to manage the reconstruction of the home of Il Grande Torino? Is this honesty in action?

Away from balance sheets and courtrooms, a vocal section of their support is of the opinion that there are no black Italians. This is a classic example of the aforementioned inability to recognise one’s own general ignorance – we even sold them a black Italian three months ago, porco dio! And, like their manager and their in-house comedy “newspaper” Tuttosport, these people will not be winning the Nobel Prize for Mathematics any time soon. Not as long as they believe, contrary to all available evidence, that 28 plus 1 equals 31.

Do Juventus, their owners, and their supporters all come from a parallel universe where there is no honesty or fair play, only furbizia? If they are visitors from another dimension – maybe David Icke and his tinfoil hat could tell us about the Agnelli, the Bilderberg Group, and extra-terrestrial lizards? – those who lack ignorance bring with them a peculiar soul-corroding cynicism. Granata is the antithesis of such cynicism.

Forza Toro sempre.

PS: Follow OperazioneDelleAlpion Twitter to learn more about how they got their old stadium on the cheap.

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sampdoria 2-2 Torino

Torino once again dropped two points in the dying seconds as they conceded an injury time penalty against Sampdoria.

The Granata made just the one change from the team that played Juventus last weekend, as the injured Guillermo Rodriguez was replaced by Cesare Bovo.

However, within the opening ten minutes Bovo himself picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Giovanni Pasquale. The on loan Udinese defender was involved in Toro's first attack of the game, but Alessio Cerci was unable to get on the end of his low cross.

A slip from Emiliano Moretti allowed former Toro striker Gianluca Sansone a strike on goal, but he was denied by Daniele Padelli in the Torino goal. However, Sansone did not have long to wait to score his inevitable goal, as he ran from the halfway line before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Sampdoria thought they had scored a second goal on the stroke of half time, after Angelo Palombo's free kick was initially saved by Padelli, and Nicola Pozzi converted the rebound. However, referee Andrea Gervasoni controversially disallowed the goal by blowing for half time before Pozzi scored.

Giampiero Ventura bravely changed his formation in the second half, bringing on Riccardo Meggiorini to switch to a 3-4-3 formation, and they were rewarded almost immediately. The home side neglected to mark Ciro Immobile from a corner, and he managed to equalise for Toro at the far post.

The Granata should have taken the lead moments later, but Alessio Cerci was denied by Angelo Da Costa. However, when Angelo Palombo upended the excellent Danilo D'Ambrosio in the area, Cerci made no mistake in beating the Brazilian from the spot.

However, Torino were once again denied maximum points when Eder threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from captain Kamil Glik in the area. Eder stepped up himself to score the penalty, and with a number of difficult fixtures coming up, Toro may live to rue this missed opportunity.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sampdoria V Torino Preview

Torino will be looking to rebound after last weekend's disappointing performance in the derby, as they travel to Sampdoria on Sunday afternoon. 

Guillermo Rodriguez picked up an injury in the derby, so he is likely to be replaced by Cesare Bovo in the middle of Torino's back three. The midfield trio of Omar El Kaddouri, Giuseppe Vives and Matteo Brighi should all retain their places as they have been impressive this season.

Ciro Immobile is yet to score in the league this campaign, and being a former Genoa player he will have an added reason to open his account in this fixture. 

Sampdoria have had a disappointing start to the season, having failed to win a match in their opening six games. And having lost all three of their home fixtures, another defeat to the Granata could cost coach Delio Rossi his job.

Sampdoria 1-1 Torino